"Police Arrested Me in Place of My Brother Who Fled From Detention": Man Cries Out, Lawyer Reacts

"Police Arrested Me in Place of My Brother Who Fled From Detention": Man Cries Out, Lawyer Reacts

  • Operatives of the Nigerian Police Force arrested a young man (name withheld) because they were unable to find his brother
  • The young man who spoke anonymously was detained by the police for an offence he did not commit
  • Barrister Olayinka Serah Ahmed, an associate attorney at First Almond Attorneys in Lagos, explains whether such an arrest is within the ambit of the law

Legit.ng journalist Esther Odili has over two years of experience covering political parties and movements.

A young man who spoke to Legit.ng anonymously said the operatives of the Nigeria police arrested him in place of his brother, who fled from detention after being arrested for robbery.

Police, family, lawyer
Lawyer speaks on "arrest in lieu". For illustration purposes only. Depicted person has no relationship to events described in this material. Photo credit: Nigeria Police Force
Source: Facebook
"I was busy attending to customers recently when some police officers stormed my shop and arrested me.

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"What is my offence? I asked them, but they refused to answer until we got to their station.
"According to them, my brother, whom they had arrested and detained a few days earlier for an alleged robbery, had managed to escape. So, they decided to arrest me in his place.
"How can you arrest me for a crime I didn't commit? I asked. They said if I liked myself, I should call my brother and beg him to turn himself in. Else, I would be detained infinitely!
"With no one to turn to, I started calling my brother on the phone and begging him to turn himself in, as that was the only way I could secure my freedom, according to the police.
"After five days in detention, my brother eventually turned himself in, and I was released. It was a harrowing event. I felt violated. I want to know: Is it legal to arrest someone for an offence allegedly committed by his/her relative?"

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Arrest in lieu: Legal expert reacts

Barrister Olayinka Serah Ahmed is passionate about fundamental human rights and has experience in civil, criminal, and corporate areas of law.

What the police have done here is what is termed "arrest in lieu". This simply means substituting another person for an alleged offender, who perhaps absconded or a situation where an arrest could not be effected due to the absence of the alleged offender. Hence, his or her close relative is arrested in order to secure the accused arrest.

It should be noted that this is a fundamental issue that the law frowns at. It's one of the major forms of police brutality.

In the celebrated case of ACB vs Okonkwo (1997) 1NWLR (PT.480) 194, the mother of the accused person was arrested and detained by the police for the offence of her child. In delivering the judgment in that case, the late eminent jurist Niki Tobi said:

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“I know of no law which authorizes the Police to arrest a mother for an offence committed or purportedly committed by the son as criminal responsibility is personal and cannot be transferred.
“A Police officer who arrests ‘A’ for the offence committed by ‘B’ should realize that he acted against the law and such a Police officer should, in addition to liability in a civil action be punished by the Police authority.”

Similarly, in Akpan vs State (2008) 14 NWLR (PT 1106) 72, the court stated that:

“There is no law that where the offender is unable to be arrested, his relative should be arrested.” See also Odogwu vs. State (2013) LPELR-22039 (CA)."

Arrest in Lieu: Violation of fundamental human rights

Also, arrest in lieu can also be proved to have violated the fundamental rights of the citizens as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Section 35(1) that:

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“Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law”. The above provision implies that a person’s freedom can only be taken away in specific circumstances allowed by law.”

This means that any restriction of a person’s liberty without following the legal procedures is a serious offence that the law condemns because the objectives of the law and the powers granted to the police are to promote people’s freedom and equality.

Hence, the police cannot then turn around and violate that same freedom without recourse to the law.

What to do if arrested in lieu

In Falade vs Attorney General of Lagos, the court held that no court would fold its arms to see the police act beyond the power conferred on them by the law. In the court's words:

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“The court is always ready and will be quick to give reliefs against any improper use of the power of the Police.”

Therefore, if you were truly arrested in place of your brother who allegedly committed the offence, your fundamental human rights have been infringed upon. To address this, you can approach the high court of the state where the infringement occurs.

Section 46(1) states that "any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is or is likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.”

Also, Section 35(6) (as amended) affirms that "any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person.” See the cases of Skye Bank vs. Njoku & Ors (2016) LPELR – 40447 (CA); Arulogun vs. COP, Lagos State & Ors. (2016) LPELR -40190 (CA).

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In addition, it is further settled in law that “an unlawful arrest and detention, no matter how short, entitles the applicant to compensation". See Arulogun vs COP (Supra)” PER F. O. OHO, J.C.A

However, it is undeniable that some possible outcomes have been recorded in the case of arrest in lieu, in which a suspect reported himself or herself to the police to secure the release of his detained relative(s). Regardless, the law is very concerned about the freedom of someone who has not committed an offence.

Therefore, it is clear as crystal that it is illegal for the police to arrest a person in lieu of another. This practice amounts to a breach of fundamental human rights, and the same gives the right to the person so arrested to seek compensation in a court of law.

She got me arrested over failed marriage promise

Meanwhile, a young man was arrested by the police for breaking up with a lady he had promised to marry.

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Barrister Titilope Anifowoshe, a respected legal expert, provided clarity to the matter, including the right of the police to make such an arrest.

Disclaimer: The advice given in this article is general and is not intended to influence readers' decisions about solving marital problems. Readers should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any decision.

Do you have a story to tell? Want an expert's advice? Please email us at ask.an.expert@corp.legit.ng with 'Ask an expert' in the subject line.

Source: Legit.ng

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